Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bread and Cars

Not to be confused with Bread and Circuses, Bread and Cars is the update on life this week. Well, actually, it's bread and one car. :)

First, the bread. A few days ago, while we were food shopping, I told Marc that I'd like to make a Chocolate Cherry Bread. This is a recipe I've used before, and it's pretty easy. Also, I haven't baked a bread in the oven in ages. Instead, this is the easy way. I put the ingredients in the bread machine, push a few buttons and wait a few hours. Really tough, huh? Well, hey, I do have to put the snipped dried cherries and chilled chocolate chips in at just the right time! :)

So here we go...

Bread machine at the ready

Bernice watches for bread thieves, so I can safely make bread

Dodger is not impressed

Mandy chose not to appear in this post. Something about renegotiating her contract.

A few hours pass, and then...

The finished product

Doesn't it look nice? Tastes great, too!

Now, fast forward a few days (to last night). What is this I spy in the driveway (all wet from the sleet we got this morning)?

Doesn't it have a pretty rear end? I love a pretty rear end!

Cute face, too!

And here's a full body shot!

Of course, I liked this car, or I wouldn't have bought it. But I'm already falling in love with it. It rides and handles like a dream. Plus, the technology in it blows away anything I've ever had in a car. You can tell it what you want to do, and I love that. It works seamlessly with my iPod (complete control is from the dash and steering wheel--and I can just tell it to play the iPod, as well as speaking dozens of other commands). It has something called "Intelligent Cruise Control" which stays at the set speed, unless we're getting closer than the set distance (that's something I can adjust) from a car ahead of us, and then it will back off safely.

I could go on and on, but I'll spare you that. The bottom line is that I love it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here we go again

Every time there seems to be some hope of peace taking hold in the Middle East, more violence erupts. I tend to read some European news sites, so I can get some outside views of these things, but I don't know why I bother. I always wind up with a headache. While many American newspapers have a slant to their reporting (and God knows, there are radio and television programs that aren't even subtle about it), we have quality media, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others of their type that have an editorial slant but try to keep their news pages as objective as possible. (And don't even get me started about the comments on some of the European news articles--the amount of anti-Semitism is appalling. Not just anti-Israel comments but hateful venom against Jews that I would hope people would be ashamed to say in this day and age. Apparently not.)

So my first stop this evening was the BBC website, where I encountered the headline, Israel bombs university in Gaza. I groaned at the thought that the Israelis may have hit a "neutral" establishment. That's certainly what that headline suggests. Only if one bothers to read into the article does one find that "[t]he university is a centre of support for Hamas - the Islamist militant group which controls the Gaza Strip." That would be the same Hamas that is a mortal enemy of the Israelis and has been supporting--or at least allowing--rockets to be fired into Israel.

It's a tragedy that civilians have been killed, but the BBC report indicates that, "Most of those killed were policemen in the Hamas militant movement." Sadly, the tight confines of Gaza don't make the avoidance of civilian casualties possible.

A true pacifist would say that the civilian casualties are reason enough to hold back, but it is Hamas that put these people in harm's way. What reasonable, responsible political body allows people to use their territory to fire rockets into a neighboring land? Not that I believe that Hamas is merely allowing this. I have no doubt they're supporting it.

So how can any rational, unbiased observer be surprised by this response? And name a country that wouldn't do exactly what Israel is doing. Think Egypt would let this go on if rockets were being fired from Libya? Or Saudi Arabia? Or China from one of its neighbors? Russia from one of its? (Yeah, let's see how many rockets Estonians get to fire into Russian towns before Estonia sees Russian tanks rolling in.) And I sure know what we'd do if someone was firing rockets over our borders! No, it's not the Mexican government firing the rockets into San Diego, it's some Mexican group, but the Mexican government says, "sorry, there's nothing we can do to stop them." Yeah, as if American troops wouldn't be across the border in about ten seconds. And they'd be right to do it.

This equation is very, very simple. If Israel isn't attacked, Israel won't attack. And there are plenty of people in Israel who are ready to make peace once and for all, allowing all parties to have their own lands and their autonomy permanently, but those who preach hate and live by violence make it difficult for the voices of peace to be heard.

It's an old saying, but I do believe it's true. If Israel's enemies laid down their arms today, there would be no more violence. If the Israelis laid down their arms today, there would be no more Israel.

Let's hope calmer heads can cool this off before it gets far worse. For the longer term, let's hope those making their names by fostering hatred will be pushed aside, so that this is the last such bloodshed anyone needs to see.

You go, Marlo

We were just watching the NBC Nightly News. One of the commercials was for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The main celebrity in the commercial was Robin Williams, but the commercial ended with a brief piece by Marlo Thomas.

It was nice to see her carrying on her father's work (that's really the main reason for the post). But it also was nice seeing a celebrity who hasn't overdone the plastic surgery. She looks fabulous! Here's a photo I found online that looks kind of like the Marlo Thomas I just saw on TV:

Actually, she looked even better in the commercial, and the woman is 71 years old! Good for her!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A couple of random photos

Two weeks ago, before we headed into Manhattan for Byrne's birthday party, I shot a couple of photos that I will share now. They're not relevant to the party or anything else. I'm just sharing them because I feel like it (and what more reason does any blogger need?).

We made a stop at "Grandma's Candy Kitchen," a local store, for Marc to buy some last-minute supplies for making candy. There was a house across the street that I thought looked neat. Here it is...

There's nothing extraordinary about this house. I just like the look of it.

And then I shot this photo as we waited at the Long Island Railroad station for our train into Manhattan...

Sufficiently bored yet? :)

Well, we're having a fun weekend. Perhaps I'll write more later or tomorrow. Hope you're having a good weekend, too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Guess who's in these photos!

Or at least some of them. Yes, Glenn borrowed my camera, so I actually got to be in a few photos. So let's continue with Byrne's party...

This young man was hired by
Jase to memorialize the event for Byrne.

Fooling around with Patrick

Our wonderful chef

The famous ('cause I said you are, Tuna! *g*) Tuna Girl and some of the other ladies

Hey, Jase, what is Jeff pointing at?

The main dish was guinea hen

And then came the cheese course (this was a muenster)


The candles are blown out

And then it was present-opening time...

Okay, that does it. It was a fabulous night for a fabulous guy, and I'm glad we were a part of it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I know winter just started yesterday, but...

I've had enough. It was 15 degrees when I left the house today (Dan and any other Canucks who wander by, that's about -9 Canadian). ;-)

The high is supposed to be about 41 at this time of year (5C), and we'll be lucky to make it to 26 (-3C). On top of that, lots of sidewalks, streets and parking lots are covered with ice. I really can live without this!

How long 'til spring?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Byrne's birthday party, continued

Let's continue the coverage of Byrne's party that I began last night.

Marc and Byrne

Byrne enjoys one of the toasts

Jase recounts how Byrne found him, abandoned and half-buried in a box of kitty litter (or something like that)

In the middle of this photo, the world-famous
Tuna Girl!

Paul, Glenn and a blurry (oops!) Marc

Never take a blurry photo of Marc, or he won't be happy!

The live music really was a nice touch!

Okay, he's back to smiling! And doesn't he have a purty mouth?

Still more to come!

The years race by

No, this isn't more about Byrne's 40th birthday. We'll get back to that.

Rather, today I was reminded of the years' passage in another way. On the day I finished the last final (Criminal Law) of my first semester in law school, I headed to the courts to touch base with the judge for whom I had interned during the summer between college and law school. I really just wanted to tell him that I had the first semester under my belt and chat a bit. As I was parking my car, I heard on the radio that a Pan Am 747 was missing and feared down over Scotland.

Later, it would be determined that the aircraft, Pan Am flight 103, had been brought down by a bomb planted by terrorists acting on behalf of the Libyan dictator, Muammar Qadaffi (who, by the way, remains in power and free, despite his extraordinary crime).

Today, news broadcasts reminded us that 20 years have passed since that day. I remember with sadness the loss of all those lives. But it also serves as a marker. I know exactly where I was when I heard, and so any mention of the bombing reminds me.

To the real point of this post... I finished my first semester of law school 20 years ago today. How did 20 years slip by so fast?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What a weekend!

I'm tuckered out! :) Yesterday, we ran a bunch of errands, including going car shopping. My car's lease is up in a few months, and the dealer's already trying to get me to sign up for another Volvo. I might do that, but I wanted to shop around first. The three likeliest choices are another S80 (what I have now), an Acura TL or an Infiniti G35.

So we went by the Acura dealer and the Infiniti dealer. The Acura is nice, and it's still in the running. But the Infiniti was quite impressive. It was comfortable and lots of fun to drive. Then we can talk about the G37 coupe, but I don't think I'll be buying one of those. It's not as roomy as the sedan--and not as practical--but the thing is a rocket. Not that the sedan is a slouch with its 306 horsepower engine!

I still need to see what Volvo has going now. The S80 has been tweaked, adding features like standard bluetooth, as well as a more powerful mid-range engine. Then we have to compare pricing.

Anyhow, we finished our Saturday car shopping and then headed for the train. Patrick had arranged an amazing birthday celebration for Byrne's 40th birthday. The party was held at the amazing loft apartment of amazing caterer and chef Catherine Schubert. It was a terrific (thought I was going to say "amazing" again, didn't you?) evening for a wonderful friend!

Then, on too little sleep, we got back on the train this morning to meet Patrick and Greg for Sunday brunch. No, not that Patrick and Greg, who have been mentioned in so many posts over the years here. And no, not Patrick from last night. This is another of our friends named Patrick. Specifically, this Patrick and this Greg. This weekend, Greg is in town for a wedding, and his birthday was this weekend, too.

So we took both of them to brunch at the Marriott Marquis. Their Sunday champagne brunch, in the revolving "rooftop" (actually, 47th floor) restaurant, appropriately called The View, is a wonderful festival of food and lovely views of the city. We had a great time, pacing ourselves (because it takes a lot to get anywhere near one's money's worth at this place!) and enjoying three hours of noshing and enjoying good company!

I didn't bring a camera this morning, but Greg did, so I'm hoping we'll see some photos on his blog once he gets back home.

I did, however, take some photos last night (with the help of Patrick's lovely boyfriend who borrowed the camera for a bit), and I will share some of those when they're transferred off the camera.

Now I need to relax! We didn't do a lot that was productive this weekend (well, a few loads of laundry and some other chores tonight), but I've had enough for one weekend! :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Which is worse?

Now that W is a lame duck (and isn't that an insult to ducks and lame creatures everywhere?), he apparently is feeling a little freer to share real thoughts. This week, he upset lots of the Christian extremists by saying, among other things, that he doesn't believe that everything in the bible is literally true. Well, how refreshing.

While I like to hear that bit of sense and rational thought from him--it's nice that he's capable of some measure of rational thought--what does it say about him that he has been toeing the line and supporting extremist views for 8 years for reasons of political expediency?

All politicians--at least, all successful ones--make compromises, but this is so troubling. It fits, though. One story about George W. Bush that I remember is that, many years ago, as a younger man, he got on the case of a homophobe. I forget the exact words he is alleged to have said, but it was something about not judging the other man. It was a story that gave me a wee bit of hope for him at the time. Not that I ever voted for him, but I thought that maybe he wasn't so bad of a person.

It seems that, perhaps, he isn't so bad in his heart, but is that better or worse than just being a religious extremist? What kind of person knows what's right (compassion, empathy and the like) but sets that aside for politics?

I don't feel angry right now. At some level, I feel pity for him. I feel pity and sadness that this is what ambition and politics so often beget.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A real pleasure

No, this isn't going to be about sex. Not that I don't see that on the schedule today. In fact, I've already been assured that it is. (Isn't he a good boy?)

No, this is about politics. Specifically, we just watched President-Elect Obama on Meet the Press, and it is such a pleasure to know that the next leader of the Free World is someone who can form complete sentences, engage in intelligent discussions and share coherent, independent thoughts.

I know he will do things I don't like, as no President can be everything to everyone (or anyone, I suppose), but I believe that he will take our country in a better overall direction and I'm comforted by the thought that he will have good reasons for his actions, based on intelligent discussions and reasoned decisions. It really gives me hope.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Miscellaneous food-related photos

I shot a few photos as Marc and Byrne prepared our Thanksgiving meal, but I never got around to posting them. So why not now?

Byrne prepares part of the pumpkin torte--egg whites that get folded in

Marc prepares stuffing

Dodger stands by, in case his help is needed

And I also have a few photos from today. Marc tried a new salmon recipe, and it was wonderful! First, we see Bernice keeping an eye on things. By the way, the cone is because she keeps biting one of her flanks and has torn herself up. So we're treating the spot and keeping her from doing more damage...

The glowing eyes are from the flash

And here are two shots of the salmon Marc prepared...

It was made with a small amount of brown sugar and olive oil, plus cumin, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, garlic salt, chili powder and black pepper. It was terrific! My man sure can cook!